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Many individuals believe that since cashmere is made from goat hairs that it is itchy. Cashmere sweaters, scarves, blankets, and other items are marketed as luxury products, but how can they be so popular if they make you itch and scratch? So, is cashmere itchy? Are cashmere products worth all the hype?
How is Cashmere Made
Before we try to describe what cashmere feels like and whether it is itchy, let’s start by reviewing how cashmere is made. Cashmere is made using the hair from the Cashmere goats in Mongolia and China. Both of these areas have very cold climates, so the goats had to evolve to stay warm in the frigid temperatures. To do so, they developed a double fleece coat.
The goat’s undercoat consists of very fine hairs that provide insulation to the goats and work to resist moisture to keep the goats dry. These fine hairs are the ones used to make quality cashmere blankets, scarves, sweaters, hats, and other items.
In the spring, as the weather warms up, the goats begin to lose their undercoat. During this time, cashmere harvesters carefully comb out the goat’s fur to remove the thin undercoat hairs. The thin hairs are then woven into yarn, which may be used to make a variety of cashmere items.
What Does Cashmere Feel Like?
Since cashmere is made using animal hairs, you’re probably asking, “does cashmere itch?” The answer is that no, cashmere, especially high-quality cashmere, should not itch. Rather, cashmere has a very soft and luxurious feel. This is because the undercoat hairs used to make cashmere are ultra-thin and very soft themselves.
Real Cashmere is Very Soft
The average diameter of a cashmere fiber is 19 microns. True top-quality cashmere may even have a diameter less than 18.5 microns. Compare this to human hair, which can be anywhere between 17 and 181 microns in diameter, and you should be able to realize why cashmere feels so soft.
The exact feel of cashmere can vary based on the goats used to make it. Cashmere goats found in Inner Mongolia, for example, have evolved to create extremely long and thin hairs, which result in an absolutely luxuriously soft cashmere.
Another feature of cashmere that makes it feel soft and not itchy is that each hair has lots of bumps on it. You may think that bumps on the hairs would make cashmere itchy, but the opposite is actually true. These bumps cause the hairs to cling on to one another. This prevents stray hairs from rubbing against the skin and making it itch or causing other irritation, as is more common with other wools, such as angora.
Cashmere Softens Over Time
One of the best things about owning quality cashmere items is that they’ll get even softer with use. As we shared above, a new cashmere sweater made using high-quality cashmere should feel nice and soft right from the beginning due to the ultra-fine fibers, but that same sweater may feel even softer after a few years.
However, you should be warned that some manufacturers may use techniques to make their cashmere items feel even softer during the production process. Softeners and other additives may be added to the cashmere to speed up the softening process. These additives are not good for the natural fibers and can cause the cashmere to degrade more quickly, meaning you won’t get as much use out of your purchase.
When shopping for cashmere, avoid purchasing anything that feels overly soft like it may have been treated. Rest assured that the quality cashmere products you purchase will soften just fine on their own over time without the use of any harmful additives.
Why Does Cashmere Feel Itchy?
Cashmere should not feel itchy. As we shared above, the fibers used to make real cashmere are ultra-fine and cling together. This prevents individual hairs from sticking out of a garment and rubbing against the skin, which is what can make items feel itchy. True cashmere is soft and smooth enough that it shouldn’t irritate even the most sensitive skin, such as that of a newborn.
If your cashmere sweater or scarf feels itchy, it almost certainly means that the item isn’t made using 100% pure, high-quality cashmere. Despite what the label may say, it is likely that other fibers were blended in with the cashmere fibers before making the sweater or scarf that is making you itch.
This is common among many manufacturers. Because it is so difficult to source and available in limited quantities, high-quality cashmere is not cheap. For this reason, manufacturers may choose other fibers to blend with real cashmere to keep production costs down.
These inferior fibers do not possess the same qualities as cashmere; they are not as soft and can stick out from garments to rub against your skin. The result? That annoying itchy and scratchy feel.
So, if your cashmere garment is making you itch, you can be pretty confident that it is not actually a 100% pure cashmere item.
Can I Make Cashmere Feel Less Itchy?
Your 100% cashmere items should not feel itchy, but if you have some cashmere blend garments you may be looking for a way to prevent them from irritating your skin. Fortunately, there are a few different things you can do to reduce how itchy a cashmere blend feels.
Use Hair Conditioner
One method to try uses hair conditioner. Just as conditioner can be used to smooth out human hair, it can also be used to smooth out the fibers found on wool items, such as cashmere blends. Before using hair conditioner on a cashmere garment, look for a brand that is free of sulfates and silicone, as these ingredients could damage the fibers.
To use hair conditioner on an itchy cashmere garment, start by washing the garment following the manufacturer’s instructions. Let it dry just a bit, but make sure it is still a little damp. Squeeze a small amount of conditioner out of the bottle into your hand. Use your fingers to gently rub the conditioner into the fibers of the blanket, hat, sweater, or other cashmere-blend item.
After rubbing the conditioner into your garment, allow it to stay on the fibers for approximately 30 minutes. Rinse the garment using cool water. You may need to perform multiple rinses to thoroughly remove all the conditioner. If some conditioner remains, the item will feel slimy when you wear it. Gently roll the item in a clean white towel to remove excess water, and lay it flat to dry to prevent stretching.
Letting the conditioner soak onto the fibers for 30 minutes works to soften the pokier fibers that may have been blended in with the cashmere. This can make a big improvement in how your sweater feels against your skin.
Vinegar and Water
Another method you may want to try to soften itchy cashmere blends involves using white vinegar and water. This method is easy and uses materials you likely already have around the house.
Start by filling up a basin with cold water. The cashmere item you’re trying to soften should be able to completely fit in the basin, so choose something that is large enough to work. Mix in 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with the water in the basin.
Turn the cashmere-blend garment inside out and submerge it into the cold water and vinegar mixture. The garment will need to soak, fully submerged, for about 15 minutes. If you notice some parts begin to float above the water, find something to use as a weight to keep them submerged.
After 15 minutes have passed, rinse the garment with cool water a few times. This should remove any traces of the vinegar. Place the wet item on a clean white towel, and roll the towel up to remove excess water. Lay the garment out flat to dry.
Is it Possible to be Allergic to Cashmere?
The odds of having a true cashmere allergy are extremely rare. Cashmere fibers are naturally hypoallergenic, so most people will not be allergic to it. Individuals who think they are allergic to cashmere, due to past reactions, likely had a reaction to one of the other fibers in a blend that was not truly 100% cashmere.
Final Thoughts: Is Cashmere Itchy
100% cashmere is soft and luxurious. The ultra-fine fibers of high-quality cashmere are long and stick to one another. This means they won’t poke out garments and rub against your skin, causing irritation or making it itch. Individuals who think cashmere is itchy have likely only experienced cashmere blends with other fibers that can rub against the skin and irritate it. If you’re looking for an itch-free experience, always choose high-quality cashmere garments; you’ll be amazed with how heavenly smooth and supple the cashmere will feel against your skin.